May 31, 2008, was a day that would change this family forever. Chris and Susan’s 3-year-old daughter Megan had what doctors referred to as “the perfect storm.” She had been fighting a cold, a sinus infection, and an ear infection all at the same time. Her high fever persisted even with over-the-counter medications, prompting Susan to take her to the doctor. Unfortunately, that was only the beginning.
Megan’s condition deteriorated during the night. She began seizing and was rushed to the local Emergency Room. The staff there realized she required specialized pediatric care and Life Flight® was called immediately to take her to Geisinger’s Janet Weis Children’s Hospital. It was there where she was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis, an infection causing inflammation of the brain. Her brain had swelled causing such extreme pressure, that her brain stem was being pushed into the top of her spine. The Pediatric Intensive Care Unit staff gave Megan antibiotics and placed her into a drug-induced coma to attempt to control the infection, swelling, and seizures.
“The likelihood of survival was very slim if you just looked at her CT-Scan,” says pediatric intensivist Dr. Frank Maffei. “She was critically ill with a life-threatening infection, and it looked like, if she did get through this, she would be severely handicapped.”
“We just hit the floor. We couldn’t believe what he was telling us,” Susan said.
A team of pediatric specialists including infectious disease, neurologists, neurosurgeons, and intensivists were continually monitoring Megan’s condition. An Intercranial Pressure Monitor was inserted to keep track of her brain pressure so the doctors could accurately provide treatment. EEG machine readings showed little activity on the left side of Megan’s brain and also deficits on the right indicating the probability of having severe disabilities.
After seven long days in a coma, Megan’s doctors and nurses began the long and cautious process of starting to bring her out of it. “The room was so full of equipment. Day by day they would remove a machine or an IV and I’ll never forget the day I was able to hold her again” recalls Susan
“Her first smile was a place for me to have hope,” Chris remembers. “She reassured me that she was in there.”
Megan endured several months of physical, occupational, and speech therapy, which made it possible for her brain to “re-wire” itself and continue to repair. She had to re-learn how to talk, crawl, stand, walk and eat.
“So compassionate, so good to Megan, but also so good to us,” Susan recalls of their time at the hospital. “The staff at Janet Weis Children’s Hospital became our friends. I have such faith in them, it’s unbelievable.”
Dr. Maffei had done research on this very type of meningitis, and Chris and Susan credit his expertise as one of the reasons that Megan pulled through such a critical situation.
“If Janet Weis Children’s Hospital didn’t exist, I don’t know that Megan would be here,” Susan says.
Nearly two years have passed, and Megan – now 5 years old – continues to make strides. She loves going to pre-school and is able to swim, run, and jump. She played soccer and took gymnastics last year and plans to play softball this year.
“What an accomplishment. There is no holding her back,” Chris says.
Children’s Miracle Network at Geisinger provided funds for medical equipment to help doctors treat critically ill children such as Megan – including monitors and medication pumps— as well as for items such as recliners in the patients’ rooms.
Meet Megan: 2010 Miracle Kid
Megan battled one of the worst cases of bacterial meningitis that doctors had ever seen - and won.